Bhavnani, Kum-Kum, John Foran, and Priya A. Kurian (eds.). Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women, Culture and Development.

Author:Najafizadeh, Mehrangiz
Position:Book review

Bhavnani, Kum-Kum, John Foran, and Priya A. Kurian (eds.). Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women, Culture and Development. London and New York: Zed Books, 2008.309 pp.

This highly instructive edited work provides important insights into salient gender issues. The editors-Bhavnani, Foran, and Kurian-first lay the groundwork through their introductory essay in which they elaborate and delineate their focus on women, culture and development. They aptly note the negative consequences of global development on women and the lower classes in the Third World and the "misplaced emphasis on modernization strategies" during the latter half of the twentieth century. Further, they recognize the continuing predominance of "overly structural and economistic approaches to development," and they argue the importance of women's contributions and of culture as they advocate a new paradigm "that puts women at its centre" and that places "culture on a par with political economy."

Bhavnani, Foran, and Kurian first discuss the progression of three paradigms beginning in the 1970s with the Women in Development (WID) approach that emphasized gender equity between women and men, alleviation of poverty, and greater efficiency of development through the complete utilization of "women's resources." In turn, the Women and Development (WAD) approach, which was influenced by Marxist-feminism, critically assessed WID and raised the central question of "why women were excluded from projects of development." More recently, the Gender and Development model (GAD), which emphasizes integrating women into the development process and empowering women, has gained prominence. Yet, the editors emphasize that this often fails to address important issues pertaining to "power, conflict, and the larger social, cultural and political contexts that frame women's ability to resist conditions of oppression." Ultimately, Bhavnani, Foran, and Kurian maintain that these approaches have not paid adequate attention to culture as "lived experience," instead of "a static set of relationships." Through their Women, Culture and Development (WCD) framework, the editors advocate "a shift in development theory and practice to envision a development project that is democratic, empowering of non-elites and environmentally sustainable." Indeed, the editors argue that the various chapters in the book present approaches that are at the intersection of interdisciplinary critical development studies, Third...

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